Ailbhe Smyth

Activist Type

Ailbhe Smyth is an Irish feminist and LGBTQ+ activist who spearheaded political campaigns to legalize divorce, same-sex marriage, and abortion over the course of many decades. After receiving an M.A. from University College Dublin, she began following the global women’s movement. In the ‘90s, Ailbhe founded and served as director of the Women’s Education, Research, and Resource Center at University College Dublin, heading the Women’s Studies department.

In 2013, Smyth co-founded the Coalition to Repeal the 8th Amendment, an alliance of more than 70 organizations, to fight the ban on abortion found in the Irish Constitution. The Coalition became one of the forces for the successful repeal of the 8th Amendment in 2018, having one of the highest-ever referendum turnouts in Ireland. Smyth has also forged political campaigns and was instrumental in achieving lesbian and gay marriage equality in 2015.

Among all of these achievements, Ailbhe was also the convenor of the Feminist Open Forum, a board member of the Equality and Rights Alliance, an organizer for Action for Choice, and the Chair of the National Lesbian and Gay Federation, for which she received the Lifetime Achievement Award at Ireland’s LGBTQ+ Awards Ceremony, GALAS. Ailbhe has also been published widely on her political ideas and feminism. In 2019, Smyth was named one of Time’s 100 most influential people.

Artwork by
John Paul Chirdon

The appreciation I’ve consistently heard from those having visited Ireland, is the bounty and beauty of its nature and people. I wanted to express Smyth’s legacy of optimism, activism, pluralism—her work for the people and place through some natural effervescence of colors and textures.


Ireland Flag
April 10, 1931
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